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Tony Piro asks readers to help stop the copying

Last year around this time, Calamaties of Nature creator Tony Piro posted a pointed parody of A Charlie Brown Christmas. It was well received, but, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, it was also copied, altered and posted all over the internet without attribution.

Yesterday, Piro noted the problem:

My use of the Peanuts characters, in a comic that I drew and wrote myself, is allowed as a parody. But when people grab my art, change a few words, and label it as their own, it amounts to theft. Of course people are free to make their own parodies, but they should use their own art and writing. I could attempt to police these copies, but ultimately this is impossible to do on the internet, especially once images start spreading on social sites like Facebook.

Of course, if his appropriation of Charles Schulz’s characters is allowable as parody, couldn’t some of his imitators claim the same thing about their appropriation of Tony Piro’s comic? Semantics aside, Piro realizes the futility of trying to stop the appropriators, so his solution is to ask his readers to post his version of the comic, with attribution, in a sort of good-information-crowds-out-bad strategy. To show that he’s no Grinch, Piro will donate $1 to Doctors Without Borders for every 500 extra page views the comic gets.

And to round out this Christmas story, someone popped up in comments to apologize for unknowingly using an altered version of the comic. Of course, the trolls were there too…

(Via Fleen.)

Variant covers for Peanuts feature first appearances of characters

Following the announcement of the creators for their new Peanuts ongoing series, BOOM! Studios has announced variant covers for the first four issues available to comics retailers as order incentives. The covers feature Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and Snoopy as they first appeared in the comic strip reproduced directly from Charles Schulz’ original panel art.

The first Peanuts miniseries, which BOOM! confirmed will be published as a series of miniseries a la Hellboy, will hit stores in January. Check out the other covers after the jump.

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BOOM! announces creators for ongoing Peanuts comic

Peanuts #1

BOOM! Studios has announced the creators for their upcoming Peanuts comic book, which will feature both new stories and reprints of strips by creator Charles Schulz.

The ongoing series, which was announced last summer as a part of their KABOOM! kids line, will feature new stories by Vicki Scott (Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown), Paige Braddock (Creative Director at Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, Jane’s World, Martian Confederacy), Shane Houghton (Reed Gunther) and Matt Whitlock. Scott and Braddock worked together on a story that appeared in #0 preview issue that was released earlier this month.

This isn’t the first time Charlie Brown and the gang have appeared in comic book form, and it isn’t even the first time they’ve appeared in comics done by someone besides creator Charles Schulz. As detailed on Comicartville.com, the Peanuts characters appeared in numerous comics in the 1950s and 1960s, some of which were reprints of newspaper strips, some new stories by Schulz and some by artists who worked for him.

“I’ve always been under the impression that Charles M. Schulz always drew and directly supervised all aspects of his strip and characters, so this was something of a surprise,” wrote Dr. Michael J. Vassallo on Comicartville.com. “From a variety of sources, I learned that these DELL issues were produced by a crew of artists working for Schulz and who did advertising artwork for him. The main artist was Dale Hale. This information has been confirmed for me by the late comic strip art collector/historian/agent Mark J. Cohen, who was gracious enough to ask Charles M. Schulz over dinner about his contribution to those Dell issues. Mr. Schulz enumerated that he did the very first one himself with Jim Sasseville doing the next few and Dale Hale doing all the rest.”

This first issue of Peanuts ships in January.

SDCC Wishlist | Pack an extra bag to bring home the goods from Fantagraphics

Love & Rockets New Stories #4

Fantagraphics sent over their list of books debuting at the San Diego Comic-Con later this month, and boy is it packed tighter than my suitcase on vacation day. The publisher will have almost two dozen new books at the show, including the last Mome; new stuff from Michael Kupperman, the Hernandez Bros. and Johnny Ryan; tons of Eurocomics; a Lou Reed/Edgar Allan Poe joint; and more. Check them out:

Love & Rockets New Stories 4 by Los Bros Hernandez: Featuring new stories by Jaime and Gilbert, including new material featuring Maggie set in the present and during her teen years.

Mark Twain’s Autobiography by Michael Kupperman: Probably the one I’ve been looking forward to the most, Kupperman publishes Mark Twain’s “biography” since the day the author/humorist died through last year — including his affair with Marilyn Monroe and his time-traveling adventures with Einstein.

Prison Pit Vol. 3 by Johnny Ryan: More deranged, twisted ultraviolent fun from Ryan.

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Six by 6 | Six pop songs about comic book characters

We sometimes get so immersed in our little world of words and pictures that it can be difficult at times to remember that comics are part and parcel of the larger pop culture and, as such, could often be referenced in other medium, like films and pop songs.

With that in mind, and since I’m always fascinated by this sort of cross-pollination, I thought I’d make a quick (and by no means definitive) list of some songs based on or about some beloved comic book characters. As a self-imposed caveat, I tried to stay away from theme songs or film contributions, so as much as I love The Ramones’ version of “Spider-Man,” I’m keeping it off the list for that reason.

Oh, and don’t forget to offer you’re own picks in the comments section …

1. Evangeline by Matthew Sweet

Sure, anyone can make up a song about Superman or Wonder Woman, but if you really want to establish your nerd cred, you need to write a song about a comic book character so long-forgotten even serious fans would need ten minutes or so to scratch their heads before saying, “Oh yeah, her.” So it was with Gen X songsmith Matthew Sweet, who penned a rather plaintive paen (“as sung by Johnny Six” the liner notes helpfully tell us) to the “sexy, killer vigilante nun” created by Chuck Dixon and Judith Hunt back in the heady days of the 1980s for Comico Comics. It’s a rather irresistible song — arguably one of Sweet’s best — as the singer looks at the figure he has placed on a pedestal and begs her to forget about all that “marriage to God” nonsense and give him the time of day, at least for a little bit. The fact that it features a really killer hook doesn’t hurt matters much.

B-Side: It’s not comics specifically, but the videos to Sweet’s Girlfriend and I’ve Been Waiting contain snippets from the anime Space Adventure Cobra and Lum, respectively.

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Comics A.M. | Borders to name bidder; Peanutweeter taken down

Borders

Retailing | Bankrupt bookseller Borders Group said in court papers filed Friday that it will name a stalking-horse bidder by July 1, with an eye toward completing the sale of all of its assets by the end of July. The Detroit News spotlights the two private-equity firms that have placed bids to buy at least a majority of the book chain’s 416 remaining stores: Phoenix-based Najafi Cos., which owns the Book of the Month Club, Columbia House and BMG; and Los Angeles-based Gores Group — the likely stalking-horse bidder — whose investments include Alliance Entertainment and Westwood One. [Reuters, The Detroit News]

Legal | Peanutweeter, a blog that combined frames from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts strips with real, out-of-context tweets, has been taken down by Tumblr as the result of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint from Iconix Brand Group, which acquired a majority stake in the Peanuts assets last year. One blogger, however, argues the blog should be considered fair use. [RIPeanutweeter, Boing Boing]

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Unseen precursor to Charles Schulz’s Peanuts unearthed by family friend

The latest in a long line of historical comic-related auctions is coming up at Heritage Auctions‘ next event –a never-before-seen pre-Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schulz. Here it is:

Created in the late 40s between Schulz’ first work Li’l Folks and the debut of Peanuts in 1950, it contains characters that bear more than a passing resemblance to future Peanuts stars Charlie Brown and Snoopy. The artwork is being offered by the family of the late Frieda Rich, a lifelong friend of Schulz who served as the inspiration for the Frieda character with the famous “naturally curly hair.”

This will be one of many pieces that’ll hit Heritage Auctions’ auction block on May 5, and the organizers expect this piece to bring more than $20,000 alone.

Comics A.M. | Borders nears Chapter 11; Diamond’s secret shopper results

Borders

Retailing | The financially troubled Borders Group reportedly could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as soon as today or Tuesday, setting the stage to close about 200 of its 674 Borders and Waldenbooks stores and eliminate thousands of jobs. [The Wall Street Journal]

Retailing | Diamond Comic Distributors revealed that 98 percent of the more than 500 direct market stores visited by secret shoppers during the first month of day-early delivery were found to be in compliance with the program’s street-date requirements. According to Diamond, of the 10 stores discovered to be in violation of the agreement, one was reported by another retailer while the others were discovered by secret shoppers. [ICv2.com]

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Comics A.M. | Comic-Con passes sell out, Rep. John Lewis to co-author GN

Isotope's "FailFrog" button

Comic-Con | Badges for Comic-Con International sold out Saturday during a marathon online-registration session that taxed the servers of convention sales partner TicketLeap and frustrated ticket buyers. Four-day passes were gone by about 2 p.m. PT; the event sold out by 6 p.m. (Additional passes may become available as cancellations are processed.) As we noted earlier, San Francisco comics retailer Isotope is memorializing Saturday’s experience with a “San Diego Comic Con 2011 Registration Disaster Commemorative Fail Frog button,” featuring a modified version of the TicketLeap logo that frustrated users saw every time they refreshed their web browser.

On the TicketLeap company blog, CEO Chris Stanchak acknowledged that “our platform experienced capacity issues for a 4 hour period” on Saturday: “While we knew the event was going to put significant demand on our system, we did not expect the traffic we received. [...] The traffic we received yesterday was several orders of magnitude higher than our high end estimate. Due to the heavy strain on the system, users for all events across our system received ‘Over Capacity’ errors. This prevented ticket buyers from buying tickets and it prevented event organizers from managing their events.” Tom Spurgeon offers commentary. [Comic-Con International]

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Comics A.M. | Spiegelman talks Grand Prix, Stephenson talks industry

Art Spiegelman

Creators | Michael Cavna talks with cartoonist Art Spiegelman about being only the third American to receive the Grand Prix from the Angoulême International Comics Festival. As recipient of the honor, the 62-year-old artist will help plan next year’s festival. “I don’t know whether you should say ‘congratulations’ or ‘condolences,’ ” he says. [The Washington Post]

Legal | A Michigan judge on Monday ordered the DNA of former retailer Michael George to be compared with a hair found on the body of his wife when she was shot to death in 1990 in their comic book store. George, 50, was found guilty in March 2008 of first-degree murder, but that conviction was set aside because of prosecutorial misconduct and the possibility of new evidence. [The Detroit News]

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Guest interview: McNamara and Braddock return to mars

Paige Braddock and Jason McNamara, circa 2008

A couple of years back I attended a panel at the Alternative Press Expo featuring Jason McNamara, writer of the Martian Confederacy, interviewing the books’ artist Paige Braddock for her spotlight panel at the show. It was an interesting discussion, so when Jason approached me about the possibility of doing an interview on the follow-up to the book, I asked him if maybe he’d be willing to interview Paige instead. And here it is. You can check out a preview of the book here.

by Jason McNamara

She’s an incredible talent, a generous collaborator and a very good friend. I’m talking, of course, about Paige Braddock.

Raised in the South, Paige graduated from the University of Tennessee and spent years working as a journalist before being recruited by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz to join his studio, where she’s now the Creative Director.

After hours, Paige is also the Eisner-nominated creator of Jane’s World, the saga of hapless journalist Jane Wyatt, cracking jokes and suffering one lesbian misadventure after another. Paige employs a classic Sunday-morning approach to modern relationships, creating a natural entry point for all readers. Created as an online strip in 1998, JW became a comic book in 2002 when Paige founded Girl Twirl publishing imprint. Jane’s World continues to be published twice a year as a series of graphic novels and is serialized at Comics.com.

A few years ago, Paige approached me about collaborating on a project. The result was 2008’s The Martian Confederacy, a futuristic Sci-Fi romp, equal parts Noam Chomsky and Dukes of Hazzard. With the upcoming release of our second volume, I thought this would be a great time to catch up.

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Comics College | Charles M. Schulz

Complete Peanuts, Vol. 10

Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.

Happy holidays everybody and welcome to another edition of our monthly Comics College feature. As our holiday gift to you, dear reader, this month we’re examining the career of one of the most beloved and acclaimed cartoonists of the 20th century, Mr. Charles M. Schulz.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Nat Gertler

The Peanuts Collection

Nat Gertler is known by some folks as the publisher of About Comics, while others know him as the person who started 24 Hour Comics Day back in 2004. But for the sake of this interview, I email interviewed Gertler about his new book (set to be released on October 25), The Peanuts Collection: Treasures from the World’s Most Beloved Comic Strip. Here’s the official description for the book: “This fully authorized, one-of-a-kind illustrated book celebrates the 60th anniversary of the world’s most beloved comic strip characters. A compendium of rare materials from the Charles M. Schulz Museum and family archives, The Peanuts Collection comes in a sturdy slipcase and features high-quality reproductions of original sketches, comics, and photographs from the world of Peanuts. Removable film cels, stickers, and booklets are included, as well as reproduction prints of Peanuts artwork ready for framing. Written by Peanuts aficionado Nat Gertler, with quotes from Schulz family members and a foreword by daughter Amy Schulz Johnson, the text offers insight into the making of the comic strip and its impact beyond the realms of newspapers and books to film, television, and popular culture. The Peanuts Collection is a must-own keepsake for anyone who loves Snoopy and the gang. … Gertler is the founder and author of Aaugh.com, a comprehensive resource for Peanuts collectors and fans.” This interview was a fun one for me, thanks to Gertler’s thorough knowledge of Peanuts material (For example, I’m still trying to fully grasp the fact that there was once a Peanuts Book of Pumpkin Carols).

Tim O’Shea: You’re a respected Peanuts expert, but I’m curious if there was any trepidation on your part in taking on a project of this import and scale?

Nat Gertler: Does a kid feel any trepidation about getting the key to the candy store? I’d already been considering writing a book about all the angles one could look at Peanuts from. That book would’ve been a bit more academic, but I jumped at the chance to do this celebratory book, with all of its great visuals and the cool removable items.

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

One Piece, Vol. 59

One Piece, Vol. 59

Publishing | The 59th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s wildly popular pirate series One Piece will set a manga record with a 3.2-million copy first printing from Japanese publisher Shueisha. The previous record of 3.1 million copies was held by the 58th volume of the series. [Anime News Network]

Publishing | Mary Ann Gwinn spotlights the partnership between Fantagraphics Books and Rosebud Archives to publish archives of vintage comics. [The Seattle Times]

Comic strips | Craig Schulz, son of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, discusses the “Peanuts on Parade” public art project, David Michaelis’ controversial book Schulz & Peanuts: A Biography, and caring for his father’s legacy: “Our biggest fear has always been somebody buying up the rights and us not having any control. We’d rather have this property make $10 million a year for 50 years, than make $100 million in one year and walk away from it.” [The Press Democrat, via Journalista]

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Californians can sport a Snoopy license plate, support museums

The Snoopy license plate

The Snoopy license plate

The California Association of Museums has launched a campaign to have a Snoopy drawing by Charles Schulz appear on a special California license plate. Proceeds from sales of the plates would establish a sustainable grant program to support state museums.

But for that to happen, at least 7,500 California drivers have to register interest in a Snoopy plate. Once there are enough interested Peanuts fans, the state will begin collecting a $50 fee from those who want the plate (more if you want it personalized). Curiously, The Snoopy Plate website doesn’t seem to list a deadline for registration.

The Snoopy plate is being made possible by Jean Schulz, the Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates and United Media Licensing, who are granting royalty-free rights to the California Association of Museums.


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